What We Know About Why Some People Never Get Covid 19

Americans who haven’t had covid-19 are now officially in the minority. A study published this week from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 58% of randomly selected blood samples from adults contained antibodies indicating that they had previously been infected with the virus; among children, that rate was 75%.

What is different about that minority of people that hasn’t yet gotten infected? Stories abound of close calls, of situations where people are sure they could have (or should have) gotten sick, but somehow dodged infection. Not all the questions are answered yet, but the question of what distinguishes the never-covid cohort is a growing area of research even as the US moves “out of the full-blown” pandemic. Here are the possibilities that scientists are considering to explain why some people haven’t contracted the virus.

They behave differently

We’ve seen it play out time and time again—some people adhere more strictly to protocols known to reduce transmission of the virus, including wearing a mask and getting vaccinated. Some people avoid large public settings and may have even been doing so before the pandemic, says Nicholas Pullen, a biology professor at the University of Northern Colorado. Then again, that doesn’t tell the whole story; as Pullen himself notes: “Ironically, I happen to be one of those ‘never COVIDers’ and I teach in huge classrooms!”

They’ve trained their immune systems

The immune system, as any immunologist or allergist can tell you, is complicated. Though vaccination against covid-19 can make symptoms more mild for some people, it can prevent others from contracting the illness altogether.

Growing evidence suggests that there may be other ways that people are protected against the virus even without specific vaccines against it. Some could have previously been infected with other coronaviruses, which may allow their immune systems to remember and fight similarly shaped viruses. Another study suggests that strong defenses in the innate immune system, barriers and other processes that prevent pathogens from infecting a person’s body, may also prevent infection.

An innate immune system that’s already not functioning as well due to other medical conditions or lifestyle factors such as sleep or diet may put a person at higher risk of getting sick from a pathogen. There’s not single answer here yet, but initial studies are intriguing and may offer avenues for future treatments for covid-19 and other conditions.

They’re genetically different

In the past, studies have found interesting associations between certain genetic variants and people’s susceptibility to communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and the flu. Naturally, researchers wondered if such a variant could exist for covid-19. One June 2021 study that was not peer reviewed found an association between a genetic variant and lower risk of contracting covid-19; another large-scale study, focused on couples in which one person got sick while the other didn’t, kicked off in Oct. 2021.

“My speculation is that something will be borne out there, because it has been well observed that resistance embedded in genetic variation is selected in pandemics,” Pullen says. But most experts suspect that even if they are able to identify such a variant with some certainty, it’s likely to be rare. For now, it’s best for those who haven’t gotten covid to assume they’re as susceptible as anyone else. Whatever the reasons some people haven’t yet gotten sick, the best defense remains staying up to date with vaccinations and avoiding contact with the virus.

Source: What we know about why some people never get covid-19 — Quartz

“Being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t always result in infection, and we’ve been keen to understand why,” study author Rhia Kundu said in a statement, using the scientific name for the coronavirus. “We found that high levels of pre-existing T cells, created by the body when infected with other human coronaviruses like the common cold, can protect against COVID-19 infection.”

The study, which examined 52 people who lived with someone who contracted the coronavirus, found that those who didn’t get infected had significantly higher levels of T cells from previous common cold coronavirus infections. T cells are part of the immune system and believed to protect the body from infection. “Our study provides the clearest evidence to date that T cells induced by common cold coronaviruses play a protective role against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” study author Ajit Lalvani said in a statement.

Researchers cautioned that the findings should not be relied upon as a protection strategy. “While this is an important discovery, it is only one form of protection, and I would stress that no one should rely on this alone,” Kundu said. “Instead, the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated, including getting your booster dose.” And the findings on the subject have been inconsistent, with other studies actually suggesting that previous infection with some coronaviruses have the opposite effect.

A major question that has come from the so-called ‘never COVID’ group is whether genetics plays a role in preventing infection. In fact, the question has spurred a team of international researchers to look for people who are genetically resistant to COVID-19 in the hopes that their findings could improve therapeutics. “What we are doing essentially is that we are testing the hypothesis that some people might not be able to get infected because of their genetic and inborn makeup, meaning that they might be genetically resistant to COVID,” says Spaan, who is a member of the COVID Human Genetic Effort.

The effort has sequenced genetic data from about 700 individuals so far, but enrollment is ongoing and researchers have received thousands of inquiries, according to Spaan. The study has several criteria, including laboratory test confirmation that the person has not had previous COVID-19 infection, intense exposure to the virus without access to personal protective equipment like masks and an unvaccinated status at the time of exposure, among others. So far, the group doesn’t know what the genetic difference could be – or if it even exists at all, though they believe it does.

“We do not know how frequent it is actually occurring,” Spaan says. “Is it like a super rare individual with a very, very rare mutation? Or is that something more common?” But the hypothesis is “embedded in human history,” according to Spaan. “COVID is not quite the first pandemic that we are dealing with,” Spaan says. “Humans have been exposed to viruses and other pathogens across time from the early beginning, and these infections have left an imprint on our genetic makeup.”

Those who haven’t gotten the coronavirus are “very much at risk,” says Murphy of Northwestern University. “I think every unvaccinated person is going to get it before this is over.” Experts stressed that research to determine why some people get COVID-19 while others don’t is still very much underway, and no one should rely on any of the hypotheses for protection. Instead, those who haven’t gotten the coronavirus should continue mitigation measures that have been proven to work, like vaccination and mask-wearing.

“You don’t ever want to have COVID,” Murphy says. “You just don’t know which people are going to get really sick from this and die or who’s going to get long COVID, which is hard to diagnose and difficult to treat and very real.” But with coronavirus cases on the rise and mitigation measures like mask mandates dropping left and right, it’s not an easy task.

COVID19: Face masks could return as cases spike Financial Mirror

06:48 Tue, 21 Jun
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How a Special Immune System Protects Our Grey Matter

In the past decade, however, scientists have discovered that the job of protecting the brain isn’t as straightforward as they thought. They’ve learnt that its fortifications have gateways and gaps, and that its borders are bustling with active immune cells.

A large body of evidence now shows that the brain and the immune system are tightly intertwined. Scientists already knew that the brain had its own resident immune cells, called microglia; recent discoveries are painting more-detailed pictures of their functions and revealing the characteristics of the other immune warriors housed in the regions around the brain. Some of these cells come from elsewhere in the body; others are produced locally, in the bone marrow of the skull.

By studying these immune cells and mapping out how they interact with the brain, researchers are discovering that they play an important part in both healthy and diseased or damaged brains. Interest in the field has exploded: there were fewer than 2,000 papers per year on the subject in 2010, swelling to more than 10,000 per year in 2021, and researchers have made several major findings in the past few years.

No longer do scientists consider the brain to be a special, sealed-off zone. “This whole idea of immune privilege is quite outdated now,” says Kiavash Movahedi, a neuroimmunologist at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Although the brain is still seen as immunologically unique — its barriers prevent immune cells from coming and going at will — it’s clear that the brain and immune system constantly interact, he adds (see ‘The brain’s immune defences’).

This shift in attitude is widespread in the community, says Leonardo Tonelli, chief of the neuroendocrinology and neuroimmunology programme at the US National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In his experience, almost every neuroscientist who reviews grant proposals for the agency accepts the connection, he says, although many still need to catch up with the latest discoveries in neuroimmunology, which have started to reveal the underlying mechanisms.

The rush to understand how the brain and immune system knit together has prompted a wealth of questions, says Tony Wyss-Coray, a neuroimmunologist at Stanford University in California. “How important is this in normal brain function or disease? That is a very hard question to answer.”

Privileged space

More than two decades ago, when neuroimmunologist Michal Schwartz had just set up her laboratory at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot,  she couldn’t stop asking herself an unpopular question: could it really be true that the brain is completely cut off from immune protection? “It was completely axiomatic that the brain cannot tolerate any immune activity — everyone thought that if you have any immune activation, this was a sign of pathology,” she says. “But it didn’t make sense that tissue that is so indispensable, like the brain, cannot enjoy the benefit of being assisted by the immune system.”

The idea that the brain was off limits to the immune system took root decades earlier. In the 1920s, the Japanese scientist Y. Shirai reported that when tumour cells were implanted in a rat’s body, the immune response destroyed them, but when placed in the brain, they survived — indicating a feeble or absent immune response. Similar findings followed in the 1940s.

Most scientists also thought that the brain lacked a system for ferrying immune molecules in and out — the lymphatic drainage system that exists elsewhere in the body — even though such a system was first described in the brain more than two centuries ago. The prevailing view, then, was that the brain and the immune system lived largely separate lives. The two were thought to collide only under hostile circumstances: when immune cells went rogue, attacking the body’s own cells in diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

So when, in the late 1990s, Schwartz and her team reported that after an acute injury to the central nervous system, two types of immune cells, macrophages and T cells, protected neurons from damage and supported their recovery, many scientists were sceptical. “Everyone told me, you’re absolutely wrong,” Schwartz recalls.

Since those early experiments, Schwartz’s team and others have amassed a large body of evidence showing that immune cells do, indeed, have a significant role in the brain, even in the absence of autoimmune disease. Researchers have shown, for example, that in mice engineered to lack an immune system, neurodegenerative diseases such as motor neuron disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and Alzheimer’s disease seemed to progress more rapidly, whereas restoring the immune system slowed their progression. Scientists have also revealed a potential role for microglia in Alzheimer’s disease.

More recently, scientists have shown that immune cells at the brain’s edges are active in neurodegenerative diseases. After examining the cerebrospinal fluid of people with Alzheimer’s, Wyss-Coray and his colleagues found evidence of a rise in numbers of T cells in the brain’s fluid-filled borders5. The expansion of these immune-cell populations suggests that they might have a role in the disease, Wyss-Coray says.

But whether immune cells hurt or help the brain is an open question. In their studies of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders, Wyss-Coray and his colleagues suggest that the immune system could be damaging neurons by releasing molecules that boost inflammation and trigger cell death. Others have suggested that T cells and other immune cells could instead be protective. For example, Schwartz’s group has reported6 that in mouse models of Alzheimer’s, boosting the immune response leads to a clearance of amyloid plaques — a pathological hallmark of the disease — and improves cognitive performance.

Busy borders

It’s now becoming clear that the brain’s margins are immunologically diverse: almost any type of immune cell in the body can also be found in the area surrounding the brain. The meninges — the fluid-filled membranes that wrap the brain — are an “immunological wonderland”, says Movahedi, whose work focuses on macrophages in the brain’s borders. “There’s so much happening out there.”

Some residents are exclusive to the frontiers. In 2021, Jonathan Kipnis, a neuroimmunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and his colleagues reported7 that there is a local source of immune cells: the bone marrow of the skull.

When they explored how the bone marrow mobilizes these cells, Kipnis and his colleagues demonstrated8 that, in response to an injury to the central nervous system or in the presence of a pathogen, signals carried in the cerebrospinal fluid were delivered to the skull bone marrow, prompting it to produce and release these cells (see ‘Private protectors’).

What role these locally produced immune cells have remains to be seen, but Kipnis’s group thinks that they might have a gentler role than immune cells from elsewhere in the body, regulating the immune response rather than being primed to fight. Kipnis says that this distinction, if true, has implications for treatment. In diseases such as multiple sclerosis, he says, symptoms could perhaps be improved by preventing immune cells from other parts of the body from coming in. By contrast, with a brain tumour, he adds, “you want the fighters”.

His team has also detected a network of channels that snake and branch over the surface of the brain, and which swarm with immune cells, forming the brain’s own lymphatic system9. These vessels, which sit in the outermost part of the meninges, give immune cells a vantage point near the brain from where they can monitor any signs of infection or injury.

In sickness and in health

As evidence builds for the involvement of immune cells during brain injury and disease, researchers have been exploring their function in healthy brains. “I think the most exciting part of neuroimmunology is that it’s relevant to so many different disorders and conditions and to normal physiology,” says Beth Stevens, a neuroscientist at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts.

Many groups, including Stevens’s, have found microglia to be important to the brain’s development. These cells are involved in pruning neuronal connections, and studies suggest that problems in the pruning process might contribute to neurodevelopmental conditions.

Border immune cells, too, have been shown to be essential in healthy brains. Kipnis, Schwartz and their colleagues, for example, have shown that mice that lack some of these cells display problems in learning and social behaviour10. Others reported11 in 2020 that mice that develop without a specific population of T cells in both the brain and the rest of the body have defective microglia. Their microglia struggle to prune neuronal connections during development, leading to excessive numbers of synapses and abnormal behaviour. The authors propose that during this crucial period, T cells migrate into the brain and help microglia to mature.

One big mystery is how exactly immune cells — particularly those around the borders — talk to the brain. Although there is some evidence that they might occasionally cross into the organ, most studies so far suggest that these cells communicate by sending in molecular messengers known as cytokines. These, in turn, influence behaviour.

Researchers have been studying how cytokines affect behaviour for decades, finding, for example, that cytokines sent out by immune cells during infection can initiate ‘sickness behaviours’ such as increased sleep12. They have also shown in animal models that alterations in cytokines — induced by depleting them throughout the body or knocking out specific cytokine receptors on neurons — can lead to alterations in memory, learning and social behaviours13. How cytokines travel into the brain and exert their effects remains an area of active study.

Cytokines might also be a link between the immune system and neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism. When Gloria Choi, a neuroimmunologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and her colleagues boosted cytokine levels in pregnant mice, they saw brain changes and autism-like behaviours in the offspring14.

Although these insights are tantalizing, much of the work on how immune cells, especially those in the borders, operate in the brain is still in its infancy. “We are very far away from understanding what’s happening in healthy brains,” Kipnis says.

A two-way street

Communication between the immune system and the brain also seems to go in the other direction: the brain can direct the immune system.

Some of these insights are decades old. In the 1970s, scientists conditioned rats to become immunosuppressed when they tasted saccharin, an artificial sweetener, by pairing it with an immunosuppressive drug for several days15.

In more recent work, Asya Rolls, a neuroimmunologist at Technion — Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, and her team explored the link between emotion, immunity and cancer in mice. They reported16 in 2018 that activating neurons in the ventral tegmental area, a brain region involved in positive emotions and motivation, boosted the immune response and, in turn, slowed tumour growth.

Then, in 2021, her group pinpointed neurons in the insular cortex — a part of the brain involved in processing emotion and bodily sensations, among other things — that were active during inflammation in the colon, a condition also known as colitis.

By activating these neurons artificially, the researchers were able to reawaken the intestinal immune response17. Just as Pavlov’s dogs learnt to associate the sound of a bell with food, causing the animals to salivate any time they heard the noise, these rodents’ neurons had captured a ‘memory’ of the immunological response that could be rebooted. “This showed that there is very intense crosstalk between neurons and immune cells,” says Movahedi, who wasn’t involved with this work.

Rolls suspects that organisms evolved such immunological ‘memories’ because they are advantageous, gearing up the immune system in situations when the body might meet pathogens. She adds that in certain cases, they can instead be maladaptive — when the body anticipates an infection and mounts an unnecessary immune response, causing collateral damage. This pathway might help to explain how psychological states can influence the immune response, providing a potential mechanism for many psychosomatic disorders, according to Rolls.

It could also inspire therapies. Rolls and her team found that blocking the activity of those inflammation-associated neurons lessened inflammation in mice with colitis. Her group hopes to translate these findings to humans, and is examining whether inhibiting activity using non-invasive brain stimulation can help to alleviate symptoms in people with Crohn’s disease and psoriasis — disorders that are mediated by the immune system. This work is in the early phases, Rolls says, “but it’ll be really cool if it works”.

Other groups are exploring how the brain controls the immune system. Choi’s team is tracing out the specific neurons and circuits that modulate the immune response. One day, she hopes to be able to generate a comprehensive map of the interactions between the brain and immune system, outlining the cells, circuits and molecular messengers responsible for the communication in both directions — and connecting those to behavioural or physiological readouts.

One of the biggest challenges now is to tease apart which populations of cells are involved in these myriad functions. To tackle it, some researchers have been probing how these cells differ at the molecular level, by sequencing genes in single cells. This has revealed a subset of microglia associated with neurodegenerative disease, for example. Understanding how these microglia function differently from their healthy counterparts will be useful in developing treatments, Stevens says. They could also be used as markers to track the progression of a disease or the efficacy of therapies, she adds.

Researchers have already begun using these insights into the immune ecosystem in and around the brain. Schwartz’s team, for example, is rejuvenating the immune system in the hope of fighting Alzheimer’s disease. This work has opened up new avenues for therapeutics, particularly for neurodegenerative conditions, Schwartz says. “It’s an exciting time in the history of brain research.”

By: Diana Kwon

Source: Guardians of the brain: how a special immune system protects our grey matter

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Diabetes Fast Facts

Here’s a look at diabetes, a disease that affects millions of people around the world. Diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both. The disease can lead to serious complications such as blindness, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, limb amputations and premature death.

Facts

People with diabetes or certain other underlying medical conditions are more likely to become severely ill if infected with Covid-19, according to the CDC. Worldwide, the number of people living with the potentially fatal disease has quadrupled since 1980, to around 422 million, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

37.3 million people in the United States have diabetes, about 11.3% of the population. 8.5 million (23%) of adults with diabetes are undiagnosed. Diabetes was the eighth leading cause of death in the United States in 2020, according to provisional data from the National Vital Statistics System.

There are several types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. Prediabetes occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Before developing Type 2 diabetes, people almost always have prediabetes. Research has shown that some long-term damage to the body may occur during prediabetes.

Type 1 diabetes develops when the body’s immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells, the only cells in the body that make insulin. This form of diabetes usually strikes children and young adults. Only 5-10% of people with diabetes have Type 1. Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes may be autoimmune, genetic or environmental. There is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells do not use insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and in adults, it accounts for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. It is associated with older age, obesity, family history, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity.

It is more common in African Americans, Latino Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being diagnosed more frequently.

Gestational diabetes is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed during pregnancy. It affects about 4% of all pregnant women. A diagnosis of gestational diabetes doesn’t mean that a woman had diabetes before she conceived, or that she will have diabetes after giving birth.

Other types of diabetes result from genetic conditions, surgery, medications, infections and other illnesses. Such types of diabetes account for 1% to 5% of all diagnosed cases.

Possible Symptoms

Frequent urination
Excessive thirst
Unexplained weight loss
Extreme hunger
Sudden changes in vision
Numbness in hands or feet
Tiredness
Dry skin
Slow healing wounds
Frequent infections

Complications

Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about two to four times higher than adults without diabetes. The risk for stroke is two to four times higher among people with diabetes. People with diabetes are at high risk for high blood pressure.

Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20-74 years. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. Between 60% and 70% of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage or neuropathy.

US Diabetes Statistics

1.4 million new cases are diagnosed every year in the United States.

In 2019, about 96 million people aged 18 or older had prediabetes.

About 286,000 people under 20 years old have diabetes.

$327 billion – Cost to treat diabetes in the US in 2017.

Timeline

1921 – Insulin is discovered by Drs. Frederick Banting and Charles Best.

November 16, 2012 – The CDC releases a report showing that 18 states had a 100% or more increase in the prevalence of diabetes from 1995 to 2010. Forty-two states saw an increase of at least 50%.

January 17, 2014 – For the first time, US surgeon general’s report on the health consequences of smoking includes data that indicates smoking can cause diabetes, as well as erectile dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration, ectopic pregnancies and impaired immune function. Smokers have a 30% to 40% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared with nonsmokers.

May 4, 2015 – A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation detects a possible connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

September 28, 2016 – The Food and Drug Administration approves a so-called artificial pancreas. The first-of-its-kind device, the size of a cell phone, monitors and treats patients with type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes.

September 28, 2017 – The FDA approves the “first-ever continuous blood sugar monitoring device” that doesn’t require patients to prick their fingers for blood samples.

December 2, 2019 – An estimated 18% of adolescents ages 12 to 18 and 24% of young adults ages 19 to 34 in the United States have prediabetes, according to a JAMA Pediatrics study covering 2005-2016.

May 15, 2022 – In its biannual Diabetes Report Card, the CDC notes a decrease in newly diagnosed cases of diabetes after almost two decades of continual increases. In 2019, the number of newly diagnosed US adults decreased from a high of 9.3 per 1,000 in 2009 to 5.9 per 1,000 adults.

By:

Source: Diabetes Fast Facts – CNN

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Don’t Panic, What Parents Really Need To Know About ‘Huggy Wuggy’

You may have seen the growing number of articles about the Huggy Wuggy character from horror survival game Poppy Playtime. Similar the Momo Challenge stories, this is usually accompanied with a scary blue character with red lips and sharp teeth and warnings about the upsetting or harmful impact on children.

However, no evidence has been reported that links back to the game itself. Rather, warnings from head teachers and Police have led to misinformation about the content of the game and potential impact on children.

Most of the panic surrounds related content created on TikTok and YouTube that features the game characters in unsettling scenarios. One of these video included a song, Free Hugs, with lyrics “Cause I could just hug you here. Forever, forever. Till you breathe your last breath.”

If you are a parent or guardian concerned about this, it’s important to understand the game before you delete it from children’s devices. Rather than a knee-jerk reaction, it’s a chance to talk to your child about the content and then make an informed decision about it with them.

Poppy Playtime Age Rating

The game itself is a scary experience designed to thrill and unsettle. It has been rated as suitable for 13 year-olds by ESRB and for 12 year-olds by PEGI. This includes descriptors for Violence, Blood from ESRB and Moderate Violence and Horror from PEGI.

The VSC Rating Board, extend the PEGI rating by stating “this game features a sense of threat and dread throughout as the player’s character explores an abandoned factory. In one intense sequence, the player’s character is pursued by a monster, including through a series of dark air vents. In another sequence, a heavy box is dropped onto a fantasy character, causing it to fall from a height. Blood appears on some pipes that the character strikes as it falls.”

This applies to the game itself rather than any fan created content. There are also unofficial fan made versions of the game on Roblox (Poppy Playtime Morphs) which do not fall under the remit of ESRB or PEGI as they are user generated content.

Taking care to understand the actual source of potentially upsetting content is important for parents. Not only so we can ensure that the settings on our children’s social media and video accounts are appropriately configured, but to ensure we don’t over react to what is a popular game.

The real danger is that stories about Poppy Playtime and the Huggy Wuggy character spiral out of control like the Momo Challenge. We’ve already seen reports eager to connect the scary Huggy Wuggy character to children jumping out of windows or breath holding playground games.

This leads to a muddled response to actual concerns children have. Banning a child from a game they are enjoying because of a related video makes it much less likely for them to talk to parents if something genuinely upsetting happens online.

The real danger with this panicked response is that it separates parents from the gaming world of their child. Much better, is to use rating advice and to play the game ourselves. We can then be present in the gaming world of our children and provide informed guidance.

Poppy Playtime Creator

I spoke to Zach Belanger, President and CEO of Enchanted Mob who made the Poppy Playtime game. I asked who the game was aimed at. “Poppy Playtime was not created with the intention to target any specific audience. Bear in mind that this was the first game our studio ever created, and our main priority was to create something that we would enjoy playing ourselves.

Beyond that, we have a passion for any content we create to be enjoyable by audiences of all ages. To us, it isn’t accurate to say that we created Poppy Playtime to be consumed by kids or adults, but rather our goal was simply to inspire and entertain anyone who decided to play the game.”

With this in mind, I wondered if the warnings from schools had come as a surprise? “The vast majority of the controversy we are seeing regarding warnings from schools about the Huggy Wuggy character are completely untrue and/or grossly exaggerated.

One of the things we’ve read online is that Huggy Wuggy whispers creepy things into one’s ear while playing, but anyone who has actually played Poppy Playtime would know that Huggy Wuggy does not even have a voice in Chapter 1, so it’s impossible for him to have whispered anything.”

“As far as we are aware, all of these warnings from schools are originating from fan made content based off of our game, but if you want my personal opinion, I do not think that any of these videos should be cause for concern, and we appreciate all the hard work and dedication our fans are put toward creating content inspired off of Poppy Playtime.”

Huggy Wuggy Song Creator

The creator of one of the more popular pieces of fan content was Igor Gordiyenko who is TryHardNinja on YouTube. He created the controversial Huggy Wuggy song that has around 5 million views.

I asked what the inspiration for the song and reason for the lyrics. “I wrote the song inspired by the story and lore of Huggy Wuggy from the game Poppy Playtime. In the game the player investigates a toy factory in which all the employees disappeared and some of the toys that used to be developed there have become sinister killer monsters. Huggy Wuggy is one of the antagonist monsters in the game.

The jingle in the game and game’s soundtrack has the lyrics, ‘He’ll squeeze you ‘til you pop’. I thought it would be creative to take the original jingle which mentions hugging forever and make it into a more obvious sinister version to be truer to his new sinister persona following the event the game.”

I asked what he made of the response to the song and the warnings that were appearing in headlines. “As a father, I completely understand the concern. I didn’t intentionally make the song to scare young kids. It’s a song based on a monster from the indie horror game Poppy Playtime rated for teens and up. My video is targeted to the same audience.”

“The themes and visuals of my song and video are true to the character’s lore, actions and depiction in the game. I am not trying to make an innocent character seem scarier than they are. Much like Chucky from Child’s Play, Huggy Wuggy is and always was a horror character. My song is for fans of the source material which is not for young kids.”

I asked him what he had done to ensure that younger children didn’t have access to the video. “As a YouTube creator I have done everything in my power to make sure the video is not served to kids younger than 13. Since the moment of upload the video has been marked “Not made for kids.”

Since reports of the song being served on YouTube Kids started about a month ago I have been doing my own periodical sweeps of that platform and I have never found that video or song. I understand how my video being recommended to young kids would be concerning and inappropriate, but all evidence points to the previous reports saying that it’s on YouTube Kids to being false.”

What advice would he have for parents if they were worried about children finding the song and being upset by it? “As a parent, if even after making sure I’ve done everything I could to filter out this content and it still gets through, I would sit with my child and talk to them about what they saw, their feelings and reassure them that Huggy Wuggy is a made up character that can’t hurt them.”

Keeping Children Safe

Rather than warning children about specific dangers such as Momo or Huggy Wuggy, parents and professionals can better help children by teaching them good practices online.

Fostering an atmosphere of openness and transparency about online activity ensures that children can thrive. If you do notice them switching screens on their devices when approached or new numbers or email addresses on their devices it’s worth checking in with them.

Keep video games and YouTube watching in shared family spaces. In video games, you can also set-up restrictions on friends and accessing user generate content that may include Poppy Playtime themed add ons. Also, ensure you have Restricted mode on for your child’s account this content is not available to them.

I am a technology critic specializing in families. I’ve recently written the Taming Gaming book for parents and related Family Video Game Database. I write for

Source: Don’t Panic, What Parents Really Need To Know About ‘Huggy Wuggy’

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